Bursting with ideas

TEDxPCC presents its first speakers event Saturday in Arcadia

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 11/21/2013

Pasadena is so full of “ideas worth spreading” that it has three independently organized TED talk events, otherwise known as TEDx.   
There’s TEDxPasadena, TEDxCaltech and on Saturday TEDxPCC will hold its first ever event at Arcadia High School Performing Arts Center, which the TEDxPCC Web site describes as a “gathering of leading thinkers and doers who will share in an inspiring and thought-provoking experience.”
The all-day event begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., featuring 15 speakers who will opine and orate on the topics of education, science and social justice. 
Tickets, which are $35 for students and $100 for general admission, include a lunch and beverages throughout the day. Organizers are expecting about 850 people to attend.
According to Eric Espinosa, executive producer of TEDxPCC, logistical issues prevented them from holding the event on the Pasadena City College campus. He said a third of the team members are current PCC students or those who recently transferred to four-year institutions. This being their first TEDx, the group received some much needed guidance from organizers with TEDxCaltech and TEDxPasadena.
“Those organizers are actually my mentors,” said Espinosa. “Greg Apodaca from Pasadena has been very helpful, and Mary Sikora from Caltech has been guiding us through the process as well. There’s a difference when it comes to running a standard license TEDx, like Pasadena, and a university license TEDx, like Caltech and PCC. It’s a different kind of ball game when you approach each kind of license. With the university license, there’s a lot more bureaucracy and politics where, as standard, you’re going at it alone.”
Nonprofit TED started in 1984 as a way to bring together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design. Today, along with two annual conferences, TED includes the TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations. The TEDx program “gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently,” according to TED’s Web site.
Espinosa said the application process with TED to create TEDxPCC was more rigorous than applying to college. He had to show that their team could contribute to “the TED community.” He also had to work with TEDxCaltech and TEDxPasadena to avoid overlapping each other. Apodaca said TEDxPasadena will not produce an event this year, in part to support and avoid confusion with the upcoming TEDxPCC event. TEDxCaltech had an event in January.
“There are three big TEDx events that are very close to each other,” he said. “The downside when you have these kinds of events is you have to stagger it so you don’t conflict with each other and dilute sponsorship so we can all have a piece of the pie. We all support each other. Every four or five months we meet with all the organizers in Southern California.” 
The TEDxPCC team has also begun to put the “Ideas Worth Spreading” slogan into action with a movement called “Projects Worth Spreading.” They have transformed an empty lot across the street from PCC into a community garden and use the space to show off designs.
“We use it to demonstrate the possibilities of what an empty lot could be turned into,” he said. “It’s something we’re kick-starting within the TEDx community. We’ve spearheaded this campaign to beautify an empty spot, not just in Pasadena but anywhere there’s a TED community.”
Arcadia High School is located at 180 Campus Drive, Arcadia. Visit tedxpcc.com for tickets and more information.